An Old Spacer’s Bounty

Tonight’s the night, Von thought as he lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. The projection image showing there, specifically at the moment the clich© had swept though his mind, was of a pristine stretch of purple tinged beach, waters calm and crystalline. The irony of it juxtaposed with the nature behind the thought brought him out of bed, feet hitting the molded foam-core floor. At the movement, the blinds on the bedroom window unfurled, the crimson hue of morning piercing the darkness. Von recoiled like the rahden in its habitat upon his dresser, the light-sensitive pet ducking into its cocoon with an audible chirrup.

“On Fy-R’s graces, close the blinds.”

The command came out in a growl that was barely human, making the figure in the bed beside him stir. But the blinds fluttered shut all the same. Von unhooked the mechanism keeping the rahden enclosed and set a bowl of pet food on the floor, then rifled through the garment database for an outfit. The usual street attire wouldn’t be appropriate today, and it took several minutes before he made a selection. It would be several more minutes before the clothing arrived to his apartment, enough time for a quick duck into the cleansing unit and a dip into the medicine cabinet. Naked and clean, he stood at the latter, tapping in the authorization code until the doors drew back. His fingers brushed the contents of the shelves, pill cartridges and inoculation sticks glistening like glowing jewels. He enclosed a deep red one in his fist, drew it out along with the gun it was designed for. One end tapered off into a plastic and foam encased point, and there was a hollow chamber in the middle designed for the apparatus of choice. He stripped the protective casing off the pointed end, leaned back against the counter, and thrust it into his bicep.

“Good morning, Mr. Zachary Von Dyetrich,” came the lilted female voice from his main personal terminal as he dressed and dragged himself into the kitchen. “Today is day 199 of the Lunar Calendar Year. The Lunar Year will end in approximately 16 standard hours. It is Day 8 of the Fyondas-Rii Cycle. Today is a federal day of celebration. Festival Events, times, and dates are available at your disposal.”

In newly acquired dark blue three piece suit, Von made a dismissive gesture and collapsed into a chair at the two-seater table. “I need the coffee menu.” The flat terminal built into the surface of the furniture came to life, showing an image of a cartoon glass of dark liquid. It was doing a jig around a pitcher of milk, its grinning visage belting out words in a sing-song voice. Von scowled down at the commercial, the message ”¹…”Subluna Blend now available’ scrolling across the bottom of the screen. “Why’s everything so complicated on this planet?” he questioned the empty air as the image faded and the menu appeared. Sliding his credit chip into the slot, he scrolled until he found his preference.

“Please select a quantity before making your purchase,” the screen reminded him.

Von glanced back towards the bedroom, his gaze lingering. With an audible sigh, he indicated two, the beverage processor built into his counter top whirring to life. Waiting for the brew, he closed out the menu and brought up his personal organizer.

“2 responses to personal inquiries were received while you were asleep,” the machine told him. “You have 4 open channels of unprompted inquiry. You have 15 event invitations.”

“Aren’t I popular,” Von commented and started on the two responses. He made note of their contents (nothing important), and moved on. More junk was weeded out, his fingers slowing at a correspondence that was lacking a subject line. Scanning it for possible threats and finding it clean, he tapped it open.

The skinny man wearing a pair of rubber goggles that were pushed up into his nest of dreads was sitting at a desk, knuckles pressed to his mouth. His eyes were a brilliant gold, speckled like precious stone.

“Captain Cusnik, just the person I wanted to see first thing in the morning,” Von groaned, though he knew the man couldn’t hear him.

“I’m heart broken, Von,” the captain said over the recorded greeting as the image showed him reclining. “Word around Zilar City is that you have something planned that’s going down tonight, and I ain’t seen you darkening my doorstep in a cyclic month. That’s a breach of Fy-R contract, by the way, seeing as I still own you for at least one more day. You think you were going to just tiptoe past my view port and I wouldn’t notice?”

“Actually, I did.”

“Well, you’re not. When you opened this correspondence, the time of day was noted. A copy of the contents and your likely illegal level of activity got sent to internal affairs. Nice little undetectable bug I came up for dealing with vermin like you. I want you on my ship upon your immediate receiving of this, or I’ll have you looking at the interior of quarantine cell for quite some time.”

Eyebrows the color of rust arched into a hairline the same color as Von looked down his nose at the screen.
“And your coffee is probably getting cold by now. I’d enjoy it while you can, considering the circumstances.”

Cusnik’s lips parted in a dazzling grin as the message ended, but Von had busied himself with transporting both coffee-filled cups and saucers to the table. One was set down at the place setting opposite him, and he fumbled through the rest of his notices, an ominous air having infiltrated his mood. He almost got up and hit the medicine cabinet again, knowing there would be some comfort that followed the administration of daily vitamins and mood enhancers, but footsteps sounded from the bedroom then.

Dark haired and with skin that was manipulated to a deep bronze, the woman adjusted her robe and sat down at the table. Elegant fingers caressed the cup of coffee but didn’t lift it.

Von barely glanced up as he finished going through his data. “I have to head out.”

“It’s barely the seventh hour.” With lids of her brown eyes drooping, her lips curled into a smile. She leaned in closer. “Surely you could at least stay and enjoy a drink with me.”

Von scratched at a patch of hair beneath his lip and lifted his half empty cup, downing the rest of its contents. “You weren’t engineered to be able to eat.”

She laughed, crossing one long leg over the other. “Of course not. But I’m not the one who bought the drinks.”

Standing, Von didn’t reply as he moved towards the floor to ceiling panel built into the center of his living room. He keyed open the sliding doors, stepping out on to the open-air dock where his transport was parked. Rusted paneling and a faded logo from the previous owner marred the hide of the medium sized vessel. Before he entered it, Von turned, only to find the woman had followed him outside, the seventy-sixth story winds whipping her hair into a tangled mass. The sun was still rising, her perfect features cast in its ethereal light. Her arms were wrapped around her body as if she was cold, but he knew she couldn’t be, and he eyed her for some time before he spoke.

“It wasn’t for you. The drink, I mean.”

“Then who else did you intend it for?”

With a rising sound of the hydraulic system, the hatch of the transport disengaged and drew back. “Nobody who’s bound to show up anytime soon.”

The woman looked as if she was contemplating the answer, but the reply that escaped her was unrelated. “Should you not return for the day, your accounts will be charged by my corporate sponsor for a full day’s recreation, regardless. If we’re parting company here, I hope I lived up to your expectations. If I haven’t, or you felt there was any discrepancies in quality, and you would like to file a-“

“You were the epitome of perfection, darling. In fact, why don’t you stick around for a few days, bring in the New Year with me. You can charge my account in advance.”

“Whatever service you desire is manageable, Mr. Von Dyetrich, as long as there’s no disruptions in payment.”
“Just Von is fine. I’ll be seeing you later — .” He trailed off, his features inquiring.

“You may call me Kiah. Ki, for short.”

Von saluted her. With the hatch closed behind him, he fired the engines, speeding off into the air-bound traffic jam that was Zilar city’s early morning rush.
xxxx

Read part 2Here